The Famous summer of 1961

   With summer baseball right around the corner I thought it would be fitting to do a post on the famous home run race between Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle from 1961, After all it is the 50th anniversary!

  When ever someone thinks of the New York Yankees the 1st thing that usually pops into their head is a tradition of pride and winning. This all started back in 1923 with George Herman Ruth aka “The Babe” who had 60 Home Runs in the year 1927 with the bombers. Ruth’s record was known as the greatest record in all of sports and not one person thought that it would ever be broken.  Ruth played for over 22 years with three different ball clubs (Yankees,Red Sox, and Braves ) and hit 714 out of the park.

The Babe

Then in December of 1959, the Yankees made a big time trade with the Kansas City Athletics(Who were known as the Yankees “Major league farm team). The Yankees received 7 players in the deal including big time stars in the making: Don Larsen, Hank Bauer and of course Roger Maris.  All three were stars in the making and really shined while playing for the Bombers in the 60’s.

Maris had an amazing season in 1960, winning the American League’s Most Valuable Player award and led the league in Slugging percentage, RBI’ s and extra base hits. Second to Maris in MVP voting was another Yankee who had becoming a fan favorite entering his 10th season with the club.That player was Mickey Mantle who had a Hall of Fame career, winning 7 Championships , 20 All Star seasons and was the  most recent player to accomplish a Triple Crown season. Mantle and Maris both came into the 1961 season with high expectations from both the media and each other.
 Both Maris and Mantle started out the season slow  but came on by the end of April. Once this great accomplishment was thought to be in reach both the people of New York and the harsh and overly critical media began to try to make the quest for 61 Home Runs into a competitive contest between Mantle, the “True Yankee” and Maris “The Outsider”.  This constant attention and sensation with the media was not handled well by Maris who coming from North Dakota never knew this kind of media or attention for a sport existed. 46 games into the season both Maris and Mantle had 15 HR’s(1 pace off from the Babe) which again made all the critics chirp about how this record that had been untouchable for nearly 35 year would never be broken.
As the season rolled on so did the nagging injuries of the great Mickey Mantle. The Mick had been known for his injuries since 1951 and was aging a lot faster than he should have been. From his knees to his arms Mantle was practically a walking casket for 5 to 6 years of his career. At the peak of the race both players were in the mid 50’s for HR on the year when Mantle knee and hip finally gave out on him. Mantle would finish the season with a total of 54 HR and leave Maris with the quest for 61.
There was a bit of contrevesory with this record. When Ruth hit 60 back in 1927 the MLB season only had 154 games on the schedule. In 1961 the MLB and league commissioner, Ford Frick expanded the schedule to 162 games and added 2 expansion teams to the AL (Angels and Twins). Because of this a question began to arise… Would it still be a valid record if it is broken after 154 games ? To answer this question Commissioner Frick decided to put an * next to Maris’ 61 HR if he were to break the record.  With this added pressure the 154th game of the Yankees season was in a series in the hometown of the Babe, Baltimore,MD against the Orioles. Maris hit 1 HR in the series giving him 59 with 8 games remaining on the schedule. Maris then struggled getting only 1 HR in his final 7 games going into the season finale against the Red Sox in Yankee Stadium. On October 1st 1961 Maris stepped up to the plate in the 4th inning of the game to face 24-year-old Tracy Stallard and the rest they say is history!  
Maris had done it ! He had single handedly passed the Babe and became the record holder. And to make things even better the Yanks would go on to win the 1st of 2 back to back chamionships with Maris leading the way. Maris would go on to play another 5 seasons in the Bronx.
Till this day a true baseball fan will say that Maris still has the record even though some JUICERS may have passed him he will always live on in history as the man who passed the Babe !

Hokies recap and a look into the Yankees offseason

Longtime no see. I greatly apologize for not posting anything in a while. A lot has happened since my last post.  RB’s Ryan Williams and Darren Evans have left the Hokies for the NFL  and the Yankees are starting to get their roster set for the 2011 campaign which looks to be even more competitive than last seasons. We’ll start with the Hokies …

To think Virginia Tech started out the season 0-2 with a close loss to Boise and a massacre loss to James Madison in Blacksburg. Tech went on to win their next 11 games in brilliant fashion under the leadership of senior’s Tyrod Taylor and Andre Smith who made the Hokies a dual threat of passing and running the ball. Another key part to the year was the inexperience on the defensive side of the ball. Over the course of the season Tech had 3 sophomore linebackers playing in almost every game this season. Even though it sounds like a major problem young talent like MLB Bruce Taylor ,  Jeron Gouveia-Winslow and even Redshirt freshman Jack Tyler who showed everything that it takes to be a playmaker in Bud Foster’s defense .

        (#58, JACK TYLER)

             The Hokies ended their season with a beating from the Stanford Cardinal and finished the season with a record of (11-3). This loss disappointed all of Hokie Nation and was very tough because it was the final game for QB Tyrod Taylor and RB’s Darren Evans and Ryan Williams.  Looking on the bright side of things the Hokies have a lot of young talent at almost every position including returning junior RB David Wilson who got very little playing time with Williams and Evans in front of him but he did take full advantage of his opportunities. Another key to Tech’s success in 2011 will be the QB position and who will be taking the snaps. The favorite right now for the role is Logan Thomas, who was originally a TE that offensive coordinator Brian Steinspring turned into a QB. Thomas stands at a towering 6’6 and can move with tremendous speed and elusiveness.  The recruiting class that is incoming for the Hokies includes talent on the defensive side of the ball mainly at on the D-line and secondary. The leader of the class right now is DT Kris Harley out of Indiana. Harley isn’t the biggest D-lineman (6’2,265 lbs) but he is very powerful and looks to be good down the road.  Now on to the Yankees….

        The New York Yankees have been relatively quiet this offseason with only two major signings (Catcher, Russell Martin and RP Rafeal Soriano).  What the bombers will have to depend on this season is young , home-grown talent for their outfield and pitching rotation. I do like this strategy but it is going to take time and I don’t see success this year with the team that they have especially in the rotation. One decision that I love is the decision to keep top prospect and future star Jesus Montero who I think will be worked and utilized in many key situations as the season rolls on.  One decision I hate is the signing of mediocre talent like Pedro Felicano and Andruw Jones. I feel like the Yanks could have and really should have taken advantage of all the premier options out there. Guys like Jayson Werth,Carl Crawford , and Cliff Lee could all be wearing the pinstripes if the Yanks stepped up and got the job done. Now as a result the Red Sox are fully loaded and look to be the heavy favorites for the title this year. Overall I give the Yanks a B+  grade for this offseason .


Joba Chamberlain…. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

If you are a Yankee fan or have been for many years like myself you have probably seen all three types of the once prized possession of the New York Yankees organization…. Joba Chamberlain.

  1. THE GOOD ………   The 1st side that you probably had the pleasure of seeing was when Joba was 1st called up to the Bronx and would come steaming out of the bullpen to Tim McGraw’s hit “Indian Outlaw” with a 99 mph fastball and a swagger that was unlike any other in the great sport that we all call baseball. Joba also was known as the kid with a good head on his shoulders and a role model for younger fans to look up to and idolize. Another great side of Joba Chamberlain was the marketing tool. With “Joba Rules!” and “Joba the Heat” going on it seemed impossible that this phenom would ever get messed up enough to be thought of as a “curse” or a “devil” to the classicist organization in the world. But then came phase 2 of this train wreck in the making .
  2. THE BAD…………     The next phase of the Joba Chamberlain cycle was his bad stuff which includes the 07 “Bug Game” in Cleveland and the beginning of the epic failure that was the Steinbrenner’s cruel fantasy of having Joba Chamberlain as an ace of their pitching staff! Now Joba coming off of a great rookie season out of the pen seemed to be heading in the right direction as the latest great product of the Yankee Farm System. What would follow is now looked upon by diehards like myself as “The Destruction of the Future”!! Joba would be limited to a certain number innings , pitches and appearances for the next two seasons of his development. This plan completely back fired and had a major negative impact on both Joba’s confidence and performance. This phase is considered positive compared to the next phase of the demise of a would’ve been ALL-STAR!!
  3. THE UGLY…………. The current phase of Joba Chamberlain’s career seems to be the worst and the end of his cycle with the Yankees. The current state of the once amazing prodigy is a 92 mph fastball and the same amount of confidence as someone who has paranoia! He has lost everything and anything that made him the once great Joba Chamberlain! I’ve got a buddy who has season tix and many connections to get to the new House of the Yanks. He is telling me many things like “He’ll get traded to a club out west” or “He’ll be left on the street where he belongs!!” To me personally the guy can be a little harsh but how can you not be the Kid was gonna be phenomenal or he was phenomenal. But who really is to blame for this Epic Failure? Is it Joba that we should be yelling at and beheading for his failure or is it the Boss’ upstairs who tried but failed at creating the next pinstripe superstar.

For me I blame two people or two things. Both can effect players in the great city of New York particularly in the borough of the Bronx. Thats right Haven heads I blame the media and of course the people in the seats above….. THE STEINBRENNER’S!! Both these giant institutions put major pressure and talk into Joba…. Too much for any kid from Nebraska to handle or ever expect to see. Well I’m done for now but you can check us out on FaceBook by searching “Matt Burrill’s Sports Haven” or just leave a comment. Okay in the words of Ron Bergandy “Stay Classy San Diego!”

Former Baby Bombers making noise in Majors

The New York Yankees are known for going out and getting studs for the big bucks. And this philosophy worked very nicely for the Bombers in the 2010 season but they do tend to lose out on trades. What I always here as a Yankee fan is how great somebody like once top prospects Austin Jackson and Tyler Clippard are doing down in Scranton or Trenton. But now the bombers are getting bitten right in their rear end as former top prospects are making very great progress in the Big Leagues. Of course there are exceptions such as Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Francisco Cervelli who were too good to trade for an older player. But what I am trying to get at is that right now the Yankees cold use a fast and young stallion in the outfield like Austin Jackson who they traded for now injured Center fielder Curtis Granderson. Just a little side note the other player traded to Detroit in what seemed to be a “Blockbuster” move was a man by the name of Phil Coke… bring back any memories??? (Blowing a lead, giving up the big hit to the Nation or even being as careless as a man on road rage with his pitches) But now as I once predicted Coke has turned the corner that separates a man from a child… AN ERA UNDER 3.00.  Another highly talented prospect that never got the chance to make magic while dawning the pinstripes and has made magic in another place. Jose Tabata who was basically the biggest  or most important piece from a Pittsburgh prospective when they sent OF Xavier Nady (Now in Chicago) and LHP Damaso Marte to the Yanks. Tabata is currently the prize possession of a very well constructed pirates minor league system. In 35 games played in class AAA Indianapolis Tabata is hitting a staggering .331 with 15 RBI’s and 19 bags swiped Tabata will definitely help the future of the cheapest franchise in the Majors. Although the Bombers have traded away some significant players they do have some young talent currently in their system. Players include star Catching prospects Jesus Montero and Austin Romine who are both incredible with their bats and their athletic abilities. Two other players of interest down on the farm are outfielders Slade Heathcott who was the 1st round choice of the bombers in 09 and Greg Golsen who has already had a taste of the Bigs and will be called up really soon. The Yankees also have a loaded arsenal of Pitchers like RHP Arodys Vizcaino who BaseballAmerica has as the future 4th starter in the rotation by 2012. Overall the Yankees are good to go with their future….That is if they can keep their cattle in the farm!!!! Until next time I’m out!!!!!!

Jesus Montero..... Is he the Future????????

Boston Masscare 2010

This weekend has been talked about for quiet some time now…. Yeah it was going to be the Nations climb towards redemption with a sweep of their hated rivals The Yankees. Well that flat-out hasn’t happened!! The Sawx have lived up to their reputation of having a brutal pitching staff with 24 earned runs in 2 games and only have scored 6 runs against the Bombers who are clicking at the right time….(What else is new!!!) Anyway I am not here to be a bias fan, I am here to say facts that many people will not like or approve of but all I have to say is “The Proofs in da pudding” or have you seen the last two games!! What is really different about the Red Sox is that they are missing Ellsbury who is usually electrifying has been injured and has left a gaping hole in front of “DA Monster”  leaving a weak Bill Hall or average Jeremy Hermida out there. Also their staff is just lets face it… TERRIBLE!!! With Beckett having a control problem, Lester not going the distance and Dice-K and Wakefield Forget about it they’re both scrubs who don’t deserve to be on an American League team. Maybe they could survive in the weaker NL but since the highly not hitable yet extremely overrated “Gyro Ball” has stopped its effectiveness Dice-K has been trash or rubbish as the Nation refers to him. And Wakefield just doesn’t look comfortable or content with what Sox manager Terry Francona and Pitching Coach John Farrell want him to do.

Not So Big papi

Unfortunately for the Sox the upcoming schedule is not friendly to them with Toronto coming into Bean Town to battle for 3rd place in the division then they travel to Detroit to battle Johnny Damon and the Tigers. And if that’s not bad enough they will have 2 games at the Stadium with the Yankees who are currently on a 6 game tear of power and production from unlikely sources. Sources like Fransisco Cervelli, Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner??? Yes all three of these pieces to the puzzle if you will are hitting over .300 and have 15 RBI’s a piece. And the pitching of Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett and C.C. Sabathia certainly doesn’t hurt the cause either with all 3 being 100% dominant the Yanks have everything clicking at just the right time. Although things don’t look good up Boston I still ain’t counting them out yet as much as I wish I could but they have to good and to experienced of a ball club to not make a run at the Yanks and Rays and it is also a 162 game season so there’s plenty of time to play catch up. Until next time I’m out like Big Tex’s 3 dingers today!!!!!


One Day of May

For both the Yankees and the Mets, today was a disaster. 

The Yanks suffered a one run loss to the Chisox.  The worst issue they were handed today was a groin strain inflicted upon Curtis Granderson.  This will keep him out of the lineup and a possible trip to the DL is there as well.  Their bullpen couldnt keep it together allowing  two important insurance runs after their starter left.  This starter of course being Javy Vazquez.  Mind you all out there rooting for the Yanks and not for Javy, Vazquez went 15-10 with 219.1 IP, 238 strikeouts, and an ERA under 3(2.87) for Atlanta last season.  Maybe he should be back in the National League??  Who knows maybe he won’t even leave New York in the switch.  I mean if Ollie Perez explodes in our face AGAIN!

Speaking of the Mets, May has been pretty rough on them too.  Of course, you can attribute some of this toughness to Doc Halladay.  Without a doubt, one of the top five pitchers in the NL, the Doctor recorded his second shutout of 2010.  this time, he only struck out 6 Mets.  Another cause of this pain for the Mets was Big Pelf turing in a big inning.  In the bottom of the fourth on Saturday, Philladelphia put up a six spot.  RBI’s for Jason werth, two for Juan Castro on a double, and of course, the leadoff hitter, Shane Victorino hit a shot off of Pelfrey with Carlos Ruiz and Halladay on base.

Bryce Harper

How many of you have heard of THIS guy!?  For those of you in the majority, who havent heard of him, let me tell you something.  Bryce Haprer is in the highschool class of 2011.  Which means, that he is absolutley nothing of a major leaguer YET.  He stands at 6′ 3″ 205 pounds.  He’s a catcher by position.  his bat speed is faster than Mark McGuire’s during his prime.  He has scored on wild pitches from second base SIX times.  FROM SECOND BASE!!!  He once hit a ball that measured 570, that’s right 570 feet.  He hit another homerun in Tropicana field that hit the back of the dome.  As a defensive catcher, he can throw oout batters from his knees.  This young superstar is (as close to being) a can’t miss prospect (as you can get). 

Now he will hopefully be entering the draft in time for the 2011 season.  of course, He SHOULD be the first overall player.  The best part, for all you Yankees fans, is that assuming that the Washington Nationals finish dead last in the majors again, the New York Yankees will get the number one overall pick in the 2011.  Jorge Posada, 38, could very, VERY well lose his job to this young guy.  After all, thats just what the yankees needed, ANOTHER superstar.